In keeping with the theme that small changes can make a difference, here are some of the efforts I plan for 2022. First, and probably the most impactful is tracking and reducing the number of automobile miles that I travel as well as other modes of transportation. I assume the train and public transport are “good” events. Since covid, I have not taken any air flights, although I realize that I have a huge history of air travel that I need to balance. But car travel is likely my largest contributor to “unsustainability”. I have made some other changes: Switching from my beloved diet coke in cans and bottles to a SodaStream system that really tastes the same and has much lower transportation and recycling impact and complications. I have begun to request recycling at the hotels where I stay and lacking that service at the hotel, I am carrying my own recycling to the collection points – not as difficult as it sounds, France has “déchetteries” all over the place. And a continuation of home composting of organic matter.
On November 23 (with a rebroadcast on November 30th) Boyd led a panel discussion on the “other” facets of geomembrane durability besides OIT. The webinar was sponsored by the IGS Technical Committee on Barrier Systems (https://www.geosyntheticssociety.org/committees/technical-barrier-systems/) and I was joined by Graham Fairhead of Fabtech and Catrin Tarnowski of Solmax. We discussed a broad range of topics including resin selection, masterbatch and stabilizer delivery systems, manufacturing quality and machine type/conditions, MQA/MQC inspection and testing and others. There is a great deal to consider when selecting a geomembrane for critical applications, and like any complex engineering task is is much more than just one property, event, test or action. Organization, long term record keeping and inspection and general good technical and business practices remain important.
One of my hobbies is golf – a wonderful game. (Not quite tennis, but better suited for my age.) However, a golf course can be very environmentally unfriendly: chemicals particularly but also energy consumption,, etc. The FFG (France Federations de Golf) has a broad program on making golf courses as environmentally benign as possible, reducing use of chemicals and operating in a much more sustainable fashion. The program is linked here: https://www.ffgolf.org/Transition-ecologique. So I have joined a club that participates in this program – one benefit, and is also geographically much closer – a reduction in car/Uber miles. Perhaps the second benefit will be greater than the first, but we will have to see. In any case, I encourage my golfing friends and colleagues to consider this theme.
While working on my personal sustainability metrics, I have read several items that have prompted me to act immediately. One of the reading themes is that our personal consumer choices are an important driver for sustainability. Individually, all the choices are small, bur cumulatively they add up to make significant impacts.
So a couple of immediate changes. I have moved over to a product called “Sodastream” several months ago. Much like the transportation reduction with geosynthetics vs. natural materials, this system drastically reduced transportation volumes for carbonated beverages. You move gas cylinders and concentrated solutions, not cans and bottles of bulky and cumbersome (environmentally inefficient) soda. I am on my 5th gas cylinder and will no longer purchase Diet Coke and carbonated water in bottles.
Organic waste to landfills is another area where I can have immediate impact – I have begun, and will continue composting of organic waste and will begin to lobby for a community composting facility and iniative.
Again on the consumer side, I have made 5 or 6 brand changes to move to more sustainable packaging consumption – concentrated products and those with reusable packaging.
We all have to do our parts and this is a very little bit, but every little bit helps – at least I hope so.
There are several levels to the human race’s changes to achieve a sustainable environment and behavior. It starts, as many things do, with a goal. That goal is presented, within this site, on my page titled “Environmental & Sustainability Policy”. But while have as goal is necessary – as Peter Drucker stated ” “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”, so step two is metrics – How and what do I plan to do in support of my personal sustainability goals and how am I doing in meeting the goals? This section of my website will contain that.
As this is the first posting, the metrics will follow…things that are on the table for personal consideration right now, in no particular order: degree of recycling contributions, waste to landfill minimization, if/when travel resumes – how to balance flying, automobile ownership and usage, personal water conservation., composting, how to play more responsible golf, and more to come…
From a business perspective, serving as an industry resource for sustainability efforts, participation and support of the IGS Sustainability Committee, preparing my/our industry to address the “plastics problem” and more…
So my pledge is to complete more specific goals and metrics and list them here by the end of 2021. I hope you and your company do the same.
Your’s truly has committed to several virtual speaking engagements in the coming months. I will again present an updated version of the “Ethics in Geosynthetics” talk, once for the IGS https://www.igs-uk.org/ UK chapter (December 1) and in December for the IGS https://www.igs-na.org/ North America Chapter. I will be a lecturer at the Huesker GeoForum event, November 10 and 11th that is being organized by the Brazil and North American organizations – the topic there is a sustainability overview, Geosynthetic materials make a great contribution to sustainability, but the operation of our manufacturing industry and engagement with future recycling of both raw materials and finished goods could use some improvement.
Also, I will be hosting a mini-lecture and panel discussion at an event sponsored by the ISG Technical https://www.geosyntheticssociety.org/committees/technical-barrier-systems/ Committee on Barrier Systems. The topic is the durability of geomembranes, but the perspective is uncommon. Our industry spends lots of time, money and attention on OIT (Oxidative Induction Time) results, an important factor, however there are several other equally critical factors that we tend to ignore almost completely in industry discussion.
On July 20, 2021 I presented a webinar titled: Geosynthetics and Sustainability – How is our industry doing?
This webinar/presentation gives an overview of the activities of our industry and some organizations, with interviews and discussions with industry participants including: Jean-Louis Vangeluwe – Solmax, Dennis Grech – Geofabrics, Sam Allen – TRI Environmental, Richard Bathurst – Royal Military College of Canada, Steve Thaxton – Owens Corning and John Krause – Executive Director IGS. Our industries products make great contributions to the cause of sustainable development and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (https://sdgs.un.org/goals) , but we can improve on our manufacturing operations and our communication of the engineering benefits of geosynthetics. Some best practices were highlighted and improvement needs discussed. As a result of this event and the increasing importance of sustainability contributions, I have enacted am Environmental and Sustainability policy – it can be found here https://boydramseyconsulting.com/environmental-and-sustainability-policy-statement/.
In a joint webinar, co-sponsored by the IGS Australian chapter (ACIGS) and the IGS Technical Committee on Barrier Systems, I presented and discussed the topic of Geo-barriers, specifically durability and estimations of durability performance using Oxidative Induction Time (OIT), both standard and high-pressure. Other panelists were Fred Gassner, Kerry Rowe, Warren Hornsey and Eric Blond.
OIT and retention of OIT are heavily used in our industry to estimate durability and lifespan and are part of the Victoria, Australia BPEM regulatory standards. However, the interpretation of the OIT and aged OIT retention test results is both formulation and testing protocol specific and should be undertaken with care and experience.
At the request and with the support of the IGS Australian chapter (ACIGS) on January 28th, 2020 I presented a webinar, “Ethics in Geosynthetics” – similar content to the events and presentations I have made in South Africa and the USA, but updated for our exciting times! A link to the ACIGS page is here: https://www.acigs.org/portfolio-items/boyd-ramsey-ethics-in-geosynthetics-january-2021/. The presentation summarized and presented highlights of the ethics policies of several organizations and companies within the geosynthetics industry as well as engaging with the audience on the complexity and “observer bias” of ethical dilemmas.
In addition to my client work and other industry responsibilities, I also serve as the Secretary / Treasurer of the International Geosynthetics Society Foundation. The IGS Foundation was created in late 2019 and is a non-profit, charitable organization. The mission of the Foundation is to support and expand the activities and reach of the IGS, particularly in the areas of education and market growth. I will serve on the Board of Trustees of the Foundation until December, 2021, having been selected by the IGS Council.
The Foundation welcomes the participation and support of all, within, or outside the general geosynthetics industry. Geosynthetics make a strong contribution to a better planet and the Foundation is an important part of expanding that market and our industries’ sustainable message. A brief video with several of our Founding Donors, myself and the Board’s Chairman – Jacques Cote explains the Foundation and highlights our kickoff at GeoAmericas 2020. The video is linked here, and can also be found on the IGS Foundation website at http://www.TheIGSFoundation.com
Please contact me if you have any questions. I hope that you will “Join us”.
"The most powerful factors in the world are clear ideas in the minds of energetic men of good will."
– J. Arthur Thomson
“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
– Aldous Huxley
“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”
– Sandra Carey